Photo by Sue Watson
Melissa Malone finalizes plans for the Chesterman and Greenbriar Community Block Party.
Importance of community
Saturday, June 29, is neighborhood renewal day in the Chesterman/Greenbriar community of Holly Springs.
From 2 to 8 p.m. there are lots of good things for kids at the fourth annual Children’s Block Party.
It is not just the parents in the community but people across the entire community who give of their energies, time and finances to help make kids feel better.
Melissa Malone knows. She has been working with neighborhood kids for a long time – her children and the community’s.
“The neighborhood reputation is that nothing good is going on behind The Hut,” Malone said.
A Concerned Citizens Group in the Greenbriar area gets together to give kids something to do.
“Those kids, they love to help,” she said.
Eric Stewart is one of the young men who keeps the trash picked up. Jaden Smith is one of the kids who weeds the vegetable and flower garden.
And volunteer, they do, working in the neighborhood garden, cleaning grass and weeds out of the flower beds, picking up trash. They are learning to volunteer from the adults who care.
And they are smart kids at Greenbriar. Some of them graduate with honors and get full-ride scholarships to college and graduate from college.
They help each other get to school in the morning.
“I’ve seen a couple of them grow,” Malone said. “They had some bad tempers. I’ve seen a change in them. They need positive role models to assist them.”
The community meets monthly to discuss situations and ways to improve, Malone said.
They have asked for speed bumps along South Chesterman Street to slow traffic. Some people speed through the narrow streets going twice the speed limit. There are no sidewalks for children to safely move around the neighborhood. The speed limit is 35 and some people drive 60 to 70 miles per hour.
There is a lot of out-ofneighborhood traffic.
Lots of people pitch in to celebrate back to school, and school supplies will be distributed.
Virginia Horton works sideby-side with Malone.
“If the kids need anything, we try to take care of our neighbors,” Malone said.
The neighborhood garden was started to give kids something to do. Lillian Stratmon had a vacant lot and agreed to let the community grow a garden. Larry Miller, Mark Miller and Chuck Thomas are some of the people who have brought equipment or arranged for the garden to be broken up.
Malone said the garden is to let children know where their food comes from – the soil.
One year they had a bountiful crop of butternut squash.
This year’s community day is expected to be the largest ever. There will be a block party with waterslides, face painting, bobbing for apples, beanbag tosses, sack races, bouncers, volleyball, kick ball, horseback riding and one kid will have a lemonade stand.
All the food is free and all the children will get free Tshirts. Some T-shirts will be for sale.
Malone said 23 years ago she got involved in Memphis International Church and their volunteer program. Sometimes people needed food.
She moved to the Holly Springs area 15 years ago. She wanted to continue volunteering.
“The first event I started on Chesterman was with John Boyuka,” Malone said.
It was a Christmas thing. There were some toys rounded up for the kids and Boyuka was famous for helping with Santa.
“Ever since then I’ve been going strong,” she said. “We decided to serve the elderly, too – anybody we could show some love to.”
Sometimes Malone gets frustrated or discouraged.
“But when I look at the overall picture, I know it’s worth it,” she said.
Helpers pitch in to make things work.
Lemon Phelps is good to help with the garden and provide some tips – some do’s and don’t’s about weed control.
Larry Miller prepares the vegetable beds.
At Christmastime, a group sings carols and food boxes are given out to those who need it.
Bi-County Farm Supply helps provide needs for the program as well as John Paul Carpenter, who supplies vegetables and flowers. Shane Strickland with Cousin’s helps. Fred Carlisle at Cash Saver assists. Walmart provides things.
A neighborhood pantry for the extremely needy is available.
“I call Mr. Carlisle and he says, ‘You just come on up here and get some groceries,’” she said.
“God is part of this project.”